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Monday, February 22, 2010

OLPC Learning Club / The Program is Great / Monies

So much news this beautiful Monday morning!

OLPC Learning Club

Hit up the OLPC Learning Club in DC this weekend. It was an amazing experience meeting so many passionate and interested people. Media master Luke even gave me tips on how I can fix some of the broken computers in São Tomé, and where to buy replacement parts for things like Kadema's screen so that those computer can be used again. I also know how to fix the key on some of the computers. Hurray!!

It looks like when I get back to São Tomé, I'll be doing a few things, including:

  • Bringing more computers
  • Conducting a computer repairs class with teachers (and perhaps some of the students too??)
  • Getting kids in the old program to make a video together on how to use the XO for future sixth grade classes
I'm very excited to get these things going, as it will definitely make the program more sustainable in the long run.

All in all, the meeting in DC was great and I'm very excited to be constantly surrounded by so many truly inspirational people. On a more personal note, Wayan at OLPC News has piqued my interest in a subject called Information Communication, particularly in the area of international development. There's a talk at American University tomorrow that I'm very excited to hit up.

The Program is Going Great!
Got another check-in email from Miguel today. Last week I had asked him to talk to the teachers about how the program is going and to evaluate everything for me. The last thing I want to do is be this Western-educated white woman with no knowledge of how things are in São Tomé, waltzing in and trying to convince these people that computers are the way to go. The point of the XO is for people to develop their own learning in a way that lets them cater the experience to their own culture. So I wanted to make sure that was working.

Miguel said he read my email word-for-word in front of all the teachers. He asked them how things were moving for them. The vote was unanimous- the program is going great and the teachers strongly believe that this is exactly what São Tomé needed as a way to improve the education process that they have going there. The teachers also said that they themselves are very much enjoying the program, too.

In terms of ways to improve what we have going, Miguel suggests we get in touch with the São Tomean government as we look for support for the program. I agree with this, and think a few meetings with the government will be very much in order when I come back, so we can clear a few things up.

Miguel also says that the teachers still have not yet been paid by the Ministry of Education, though the director of the school insists that he filed the necessary documentation and it's only a matter of time until they get paid. Oh how I hope that this is true and that there isn't corruption happening there. Otherwise, I will pay those teachers myself, goddammit...or maybe, very cautiously, use donor money (with appropriate permission) the program can't go on without the teachers being paid. The only huge issue with this is that of the big S word, sustainability.

I am so happy to know that the program is going well.

The famous Luke told me at the OLPC Learning Club that the large supply of USB 2.0 Ethernet adapters I have in my room can be sold for $20-$25 a pop as a fundraiser to support our program. I'm going to try selling one on EBAY and one on Craigslist and see what happens if I explain the program and try to get people to donate more than the $20-25 requested. I'd love to be able to make a small fortune with them in order to put it toward our goal. In fact, three people at the Learning Club bought Ethernet I've already made about $60 thanks to them!!

Ned at STeP UP has been my saving grace- his financial people in DC have made it so that any donations going to STeP UP with "OLPC" in the memo will be stowed and recorded separately. This is great for us, as it's difficult for me to keep track of the money myself. Now whenever I get a donation in my name I can just cut STeP UP a check and the system works for me.

That's everything for now. Looking at a couple of potential private donors. Met a great new friend yesterday that works in the Reagan building here in DC. He's like ten steps above me in terms of the "giving money" process...but he gave me some really good insight about how a small initiative like mine, part of a small organization in even a smaller country, can vouch for funding. Thanks Jonathan!

Hope all is well with everyone. Be sure to check out when you get a chance. It's a travel blog that I started, we have some amazing writers on it, and we're trying to boost our readership! And click some ads while you're at it. The more money I can make with this (so far I think we've made about seven cents on our advertising), the less I have to worry about making rent this month, the more I can focus on OLPC. So really, taking care of me is directly related to the education of about 500 sixth grade students in São Tomé (right?).

Peace to all.

1 comment:

  1. So, first, its called ICT, information and communication technologies, and ICT4D (for development) is what you're doing with those XO's in San Tome.

    Next, why fundraise on Craigslist? there's this whole community of OLPC supporters who can be your supporters too, if you market to them through this little site called

    Last but not least, have the kids repair the XO's - its the OLPC way!

    Sell your adapters as a fundrasing promotion there - I could even get you an in with their editor.



Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007